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Inspirational Reads

Friday Morning Latin Lesson, Vol XCIII

December 17, 2010

As promised, I went and got the family's Christmas tree last weekend.


I ended up going to Lowes...which, as I've mentioned before, isn't a suitable place to buy things like plumbing supplies, wood screws or light bulbs. Naturally, a Christmas tree is a perfect thing to buy from there, right?

Well, it seemed so. The tree didn't look too bad. Of all the twigs trees left, the one I selected was the best-looking one. So, I hefted it up, much to the delight of my children who were impressed by my feat of strength, and carried it up front. An old man asked if I'd like it trimmed a little bit and if I want the bottom branches cut off. Well, sure, I would, I said. I set it in the holder and then watched as the old man picked up an electric chain saw and could not figure out why it was not working.

"You may want to plug that in," I pointed out to the old man. He chuckled, plugged the saw in, and cut my tree. He then proceeded to mutilate the bottom part of the tree as he chopped off smaller branches with all the grace and dexterity of a drunken rhinoceros.

I took the tree, paid for it, and headed out to the car where I had to toss it in the back--Lowes, help you tie something to the roof? Perish the motherfuckin' thought. We drove home and I prepared lunch for the children and then decided to try my best to get the tree on the base. However, there's no hole in the base, so I have the bash the fucking base onto the tree, which doesn't go so well because all I can find is a rubber mallet and a flooring hammer. At this point, I'm a little incensed, but I finally get the tree on there far enough I feel it won't fall over.

I brought the tree in and watered it, twisting and turning it so that the thin spots were as hidden as possible. At that point, my hands were covered in sap and rosin, my arms and face were scratched by the needles, I had hit my head on the back hatch to my car, and my patience was at an end.

The following day, after letting the branches of the tree settle, I sighed at how shitty the tree looked. It's not that it's a bad little tree, Charlie Brown, it's just that it's not very wide. And it's a bit...uneven...gappy even. But, it's a tree, and it's indoors, and that's what it's about, right?

So, I started to put the lights on the tree when I suddenly realized that the outlet in front of which I parked the tree doesn't work. I didn't swear--too much--at this miscalculation on my part (read: boneheaded mistake because I didn't remember that half of the outlets in my living room don't work). I finally found an extension cord, plugged in the lights and strung the lights around the tree. Unfortunately, my glasses are so old and so bad and so scratched that it actually hurts to look at the lights of the tree because they are so blurred. My wife fixed the lighting issue for me.

I left the decorating to the kids, and they did an admirable job with it. It might not be the White House Christmas Tree or the Rockefeller Christmas Tree, but it's good enough for us. I'm sure Santa Claus will find it suitable for present deposition on Christmas morning.

That is, if I can find where I put the tree skirt after I washed it last year...

With all that in mind, I think this might be my last real tree, as this could be the most annoying one that I've had to buy and set up so far. And when the time comes to take the tree down, you can be damned sure that I'll be firing this little phrase off when I need to dispose of the body. Or bough. Or whatever the fuck it is.

Neca igni!

Pronounced: "Nay-cah eeg-nee!"

Hot translation in the hovertext.

Just the tree. She can stay.

Legend has it that the Christmas tree became a symbol of Christianity when one Saint Boniface (his name is Latin for "doer of good deeds"--see how that works out?) decided that he'd had enough of the pagan symbol of Thor's Oak tree. So, he did the logical thing: he cut it down.

The reasons for cutting down the tree were many, but they mostly revolved around getting rid of a site sacred to a pagan god. He also wanted to show that Thor wasn't all that, and that his mighty oak could be destroyed. When everyone saw that Thor did not strike Boniface down for felling his mighty tree, they converted to Christianity.

Boniface then noticed that, among the roots, a tiny fir tree was growing. Being the opportunist that he was, Boniface said that the fir tree should become a symbol of Christ. He then began to spread Christianity throughout the German world, including Bavaria, making him the Patron Saint of Brewers.

Germans and Swedes had for a long time been decorating evergreen trees during the darkest part of the winter in order to welcome the coming spring. They would hang candles and apples and paper stars and all sorts of shit from the trees in a midwinter celebration. Some of the trees were left in the yard, some were cut down and propped up next to the door, and some were brought inside. Eventually, the two traditions were combined, and the modern-age Christmas tree was born. The Germans eventually brought the tradition to America in the 18th century, about two hundred years after the practice of decorating a fir tree became widely associated with Christmas.

Despite all this, and his connection to the Christmas tree, St. Boniface's day of veneration is June 5th. Makes perfect fucking sense.

Felix dies natalis Christi.


Ed said...

I worked at Lowe's for 4 years in college.

And although it's still my favorite Home Improvement store, the place has definitely gone to shit since then.

Probably because I left.

Hart Johnson said...

teehee--we went to a fake tree about 3 years ago--I miss the real one, but that is nostalgia--in reality, we've never had much luck keeping them from drying out, and for some reason in michigan they cost a fortune (much more than they ever did when we lived in the Pacific northwest).

MJenks said...

@ Ed: I've noticed just in the past six years that Lowes has really gone to hell. I still go there--at this point, I don't honestly know why--because of the convenience to home and to Chick Fil-A.

@ Hart: Yeah, I can't understand that. They're really expensive here in North Carolina, too, which makes little sense as we're (supposedly) one of the nation's leading growers.

To get a really nice "live" tree, it's $75 to $100. To get a really nice artificial tree--before the sales--it's about $150 to $200, which is what I would spend in two years for a tree, and an artificial should last me five.

Wynn said...

I should start bringing in pieces of ash or oak and pimp that with glitter for christmas, because there's nothing christian about glitter, right?

But finding already dead pieces of oak seems kind of time consuming for a city dweller.. Hmm..

A note about your comment above here: Damn, real trees are expensive, and a fake tree will last you longer than five years. We've had ours for uhm, since mom and dad got divorced, so.. ten years? And it's still pretty.

Wynn said...

LOL, I just realised the horrible double standard mistake of the first sentence there. Strike "for christmas" and make it.. "rahh pagan midwinter celebrations, rahh!" instead!

*blushes and walks away*

DEZMOND said...

"So, I hefted it up, much to the delight of my children who were impressed by my feat of strength, and carried it up front."

oh, the sweet memories the little angels will have on Christmas when they grow up :))) Hope you didn't flash anyone with your bum while hefting up the tree.

BeckEye said...

I got a tree at Lowe's once...when I lived in New Jersey. It was actually a pretty nice tree.

Also, I totally get your allegiance to a place just because it's close to Chick-fil-A.

Simply Suthern said...

How to fix a gappy tree.

Drill holes in the trunk in the gappy part. Stick limbs that the Lowes guy trimmed off in the holes. There ya go!!

Oh? You left those at Lowes?